A group of influential education, business, and nonprofit organizations—including Code.org, the Educational Testing Service, the International Society for Technology in Education, and the World Economic Forum—announced an initiative May 2 to help schools determine what role artificial intelligence should play in K-12 education.
Dubbed TeachAI, the effort plans to help schools and state education departments figure out how to effectively integrate AI into curricula, while also protecting students’ online safety and privacy, and ensuring educators and students understand the possible pitfalls of AI. Those potential pitfalls include AI systems that are trained to make decisions based on biased data fed into them and the potential of AI to help spread misinformation and disinformation.
TeachAI plans to recommend best practices for helping students understand what’s behind the technology that powers artificial intelligence, as well as bringing AI learning tools and assessments into schools in thoughtful ways that protect students’ data privacy, the groups say.
The announcement of the initiative comes just as school districts are really starting to grapple with how to deal with the rapid evolution of AI technologies such as ChatGPT. Some school districts—such as New York City’s, the nation’s largest—have banned the use of ChatGPT, except for some limited circumstances. Others—such as the Gwinnett school district in Georgia—are integrating AI into the curriculum and encouraging students to investigate how it works.
Artificial intelligence technologies replicate human-like intelligence by training machines and computer systems to do tasks that simulate some of what the human brain can do. It relies on systems that can actually learn, usually by analyzing vast quantities of data and searching out new patterns and relationships. These systems can actually improve over time, becoming more complex and accurate as they take in more information.
Today’s students must master the “superpower of using the technology,” said Hadi Partovi, the CEO and founder of Code.org in an interview about the announcement of the initiative. “What does it mean to teach critical thinking, teach digital fluency, teach safety in a world with these digital tools?”
TeachAI will work with educators to “basically talk about these problems and to help chart a pathway to evolve education,” Partovi said. “Not only in teaching with AI, but also teaching about AI and to do so safely, ethically, and equitably.”
Taking a more critical look at AI is something Google engineer Geoffrey Hinton wants everyone to do. That is why he recently left the company. He wants to speak more openly about the potential dangers inherent in the rapid pace of AI’s development.
Initiative participants also include companies such as Amazon, Cisco, Microsoft, and OpenAI; education organizations such as AASA-The School Superintendents Association, College Board, Council of Chief State School Officers, National Association of State Boards of Education, and the National School Boards Association; well as education leaders from Brazil, Germany, Kenya, Malaysia, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and other nations.